Our new PCWC poster "Boycott Rosita's: No Love for Rightwing Tacos" is finished and ready to be posted around town! It recently came to our attention that the Rosita's location in Tempe had quietly been the hub for rightwing and anti-immigrant organizing in Tempe, this included hosting Tea Party groups and a Sheriff Arpaio speaking engagement. The owners at Rosita's took their anti-immigrant and anti-worker activities a step further by firing a longtime employee in retaliation for posting about the Tea Party events on an anti-Arpaio facebook page. This news was all the more disturbing because we have been patrons there for years, all the tacos, burritos, and beers we'd bought were lining the pockets of a rightwing Mexican restaurant. We'd been funding our enemies!
In early July we were tipped off that Sheriff Arpaio was in Tempe speaking to supporters at Rosita's, so we made some calls, got a few friends together, and booked it over to crash the party. We missed that old bastard Arpaio by just a few minutes, but there was still a few dozen Tea Party people in the main dining room where the walls were adorned with a number of Republican "Tea Party" candidates' campaign signs. We were given the boot pretty quickly by management, who insisted they have the right to host Arpaio, the Tea Party, and whoever they want, regardless of how uncomfortable or fearful it makes the customers or employees.
One worker wasn't having it, so he went to the facebook group "People against Sheriff Joe Arpaio" and posted a call out for people to come down to Rosita's to confront the anti-immigrant gathering.
A disclaimer: We did not learn of this event from this employee, in fact a friend was eating lunch at Rosita's and saw Arpaio arrive and speak, it was this person who hit us up to tell us this was going down. I want to address this because the employee who wrote the post on facebook was fired a couple of days later, and that if the worker was fired because of our appearance at the restaurant it was not because of the post on facebook, because we hadn't seen it.
I've since met the worker, he told me that when he came to work a couple of days after the Arpaio-Tea Party event that his manager was waiting for him with a printed copy of the facebook page in hand. It struck me as bizarre that his boss would think to take a look at the anti-Arpaio facebook group for some evidence behind our interruption earlier that week, as this is a page that is monitored by Arpaio's security detail, and possibly other law enforcement agencies, it's not unlikely that the management was in collusion with MCSO. While this information could have been provided to Rosita's by one of Arpaio's goons, it also could've been a customer who saw the post and called it in, or some rightwinger keeping an eye on the anti-Arpaio site who reported it to the management.
This isn't the first incident in recent months of workers being fired in retaliation for standing in solidarity with immigrants, or taking action against rightwing anti-immigrant groups . In June I wrote in support of the 13 Latino Pei Wei workers who were denied a day off to attend the large immigrant demonstration back in May, these workers defied the company's orders by taking a wild cat strike to join the thousands of other people at the march. Like the Pei Wei workers, the Rosita's worker took action by blowing the whistle on the rightwing organizing going down in the restaurant, but unlike the Pei Wei workers this came from a white worker who took the initiative to go public on Rosita's love affair with the authorities and the racists from the right.
For all of the efforts of media outlets, politicians, and anti-immigrant activists who continue to exacerbate tensions between white workers and workers of color, these incidents show that while action by workers is isolated, there is an undercurrent of class solidarity that could grow to push the debate on SB 1070 in a liberatory direction. Along these lines, it may be surprising to workers who fight back to find that, whether brown or white, the capitalist has a pink slip waiting for those fighting against the white supremacist order by fighting for their dignity, or for those who defy their perceived elevated status on the class/race hierarchy to stand with workers struggling below them. This is the fragile truce between white workers and the capitalist class, a system that rewards white people with a series of privileges in return for their loyalty to the system of private property and profit that benefits the rich and powerful at the expense of our counterparts from communities of color.
The disciplining of workers who challenge the white supremacist order and the collaboration between the owners and the rightwing and anti-immigrant groups cannot stand, we ought to discipline the bosses who find it acceptable to bring this level of terror into the workplace and community. In this "right to work" state an employee can be fired with or without cause, so taking walk outs, strikes, or other forms of collective action almost certainly guarantee getting laid off.
We are calling for a permanent boycott of the two Rosita's restaurants in the valley, not with the intention of harming the workers, the owners of this restaurant do that enough by hosting the enemies of working people. We want to drag these cheer leaders of repression into the light, to shame them publicly, and to withdraw any monetary support for them since they've used so much of our money spent there to attack immigrants and communities of color, this is unacceptable. In these times it's important to "out" businesses that provide shelter or a space for anti-immigrant, rightwing, racist, and/or fascist groups.
restaurant's menu. Rosa Keeme, the founder of Rosita's, would probably have never made it to Tempe or opened a restaurant fifty years ago if her family had to contend with the border, movement, and immigration controls that Mexicans face these days. Rosa's mother, Maria Jesus Calles-Moreno, benefited significantly from the lack of border controls, in fact it may have saved her life.
If the biography on the menu is to be believed, Rosa's great uncle was Plutarco Elías Calles, a Mexican general, politician, and later a president and dictator-like figure who founded the group which later became the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the corrupt and brutal political body that ruled Mexico for seventy years. Plutarco ruled formally as president for awhile and then informally after that through his political machine until he was finally forced into a short exile in the United States. So, the Calles family, like many Mexican families during this era, was forced to flee to Sonora, Mexico to escape political repression. Over the years, the family moved back and forth from Sonora to Arizona, to Sonora, and back again, not all together any different than thousands of other Mexican workers who had to travel to the U.S. and back for decades doing seasonal work, or the millions of families that NAFTA uprooted and divided with the border wall.
We can't change capitalism, it has to be abolished, so we won't pretend that even if the owners of Rosita's came to their senses and put a stop to their cooperation with the anti-immigrant groups, that their restaurant, or virtually any other workplace, will be a workers' paradise. At the end of the day it's still an underpaid, overworked, misery inducing job, but I'll be damned if we let those who seek to actively lower our material conditions have an open place from which to propagandize and organize to keep us all down.
Shutdown racist, anti-immigrant, and rightwing organizing in Tempe, boycotting Rosita's is just the start!